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Other Words For Home by Jasmine Warga
A couple of my standing routines in my eighth grade ELA classes are that we always set aside time to silently read AND I always silently read with my students. This is how I sneak middle grade and young adult literature into my packed doctoral student reading schedule. Of all the books I read last school year, my most favorite to book talk to my students was Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga.
Jude is a middle school aged girl who lives with her older brother and parents in Syria at a time when the country is getting volatile. Her father sends Jude and her mother to live in Cincinnati with her mother’s brother and his family, while he stays behind to protect their home. Jude’s brother makes the choice to join the revolutionaries in the fight against the oppressive government, possibly putting him in grave danger.
Told from Jude’s point of view in verse, Other Words For Home reveals the challenges that many immigrant children--particularly from the Middle East--face when they come to the United States. When Jude first arrives everything seems too loud, too big, and too strange. She and her mother don’t speak English and the people seem to have labeled her as “Middle Eastern”--a term that is loaded with mixed emotions.
I have a soft spot for novels in verse anyway, but Warga tells Jude’s story so beautifully that I found myself giving my classes just a bit more time to silently read so I could read more as well.